frandroid: (doomsday clock)
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Clock Moves Forward Two Minutes

15 January 2007 | 10:27 PM

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) is moving the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock on January 17, 2007, from 7 to 5 minutes to midnight.

BAS announced the Clock change at an unprecedented joint news conference at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, and the Royal Society in London. In a statement supporting the decision to move the hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS Board focused on two major sources of catastrophe: the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons, 2000 of them ready to launch within minutes; and the destruction of human habitats from climate change.

Fourteen leading scientists and security experts writing in the January-February issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, explore further the potential for catastrophic damage from human-made technologies.

Created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted only 17 times prior to today, most recently in February 2002 after the events of 9/11. At that time, BAS underscored the slow progress on global nuclear disarmament.

By moving the hand of the Clock closer to midnight—the figurative end of civilization—the BAS Board is drawing attention to the increasing dangers from the spread of nuclear weapons in a world of violent conflict, and to the catastrophic harm from climate change that is unfolding.

At the announcement from London, Stephen Hawking, BAS Sponsor, professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of the Royal Society, said: "As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change."

From Washington, Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin, said: "As we stand at the brink of a Second Nuclear Age and at the onset of unprecedented climate change, our way of thinking about the uses and control of technologies must change to prevent unspeakable destruction and future human suffering."

Sir Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, professor of cosmology and astrophysics, master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, and BAS Sponsor said: "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity, but climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilization as we know it."

Lawrence M. Krauss, another BAS Sponsor and professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, said: "In these dangerous times, scientists have a responsibility to speak truth to power especially if it might provoke actions to reduce threats from the preventable technological dangers currently facing humanity. To do anything else would be negligent."

Ambassador Thomas Pickering, a BAS director and co-chair of the International Crisis Group, said: "Although our current situation is dire, we have the means today to successfully address these global problems. For example, through vigorous diplomacy and international agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency, we can negotiate and implement agreements that could protect us all from the most destructive technology on Earth—nuclear weapons."

The BAS statement outlines a number of steps that, if taken immediately, could help to prevent disaster, including the following:

* Reduce the launch readiness of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and completely removing nuclear weapons from the day-to-day operations of their militaries
* Reduce the number of nuclear weapons by dismantling, storing, and destroying more than 20,000 warheads over the next 10 years, as well as greatly increasing efforts to locate, store, and secure nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere
* Stop production of nuclear weapons material, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium--whether in military or civilian facilities
* Engage in serious and candid discussion about the potential expansion of nuclear power worldwide
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